If there is such a person who would be the main character - in the sense of them driving the narrative - in the
opera, it's Maundy Lindros. She comes from privilege, and that's not something that she sheds lightly. She is the head of a shipping (freight+cargo+supply chain logistics) company that
operates out of the Eastern seaboard, and this is the largest source of her wealth.
When I wrote the first incarnations of Maundy, the character was actually an obese male; I had a
stereotypical Mediterranean mob boss / crime overlord in the mold of Vito Corleone (or Wilson Fisk). That idea was discarded because I think the world needs to move away from over-subjugating certain persons, and because we've already seen that done many times over. ... and because this storyline didn't have a place to fit such a gangster's history; a requisite for understanding what makes someone like that tick.
I then rewrote Maundy as a cultish elder, but again, too
stereotypical; almost borderline tinfoil hat stuff. The easy fix was to just change the gender. Women and their motives (especially in the company of men) tend to be much more difficult to follow on screen/stage when all the audience is given is a few minutes with them. Men are simple to gauge; we have a small menu. Women, on the otherhand are usually (not always) in supportive roles (in the company of men), meaning that there is a lot more on their plate that they're actually dealing with when it comes to keeping waters calm. Maundy's that person. She is a monster in her own right, though her sophistication will not allowe her emotions to devolve into a savage like Stu; nibbling on an oppressive spice like most would-be miscreants is beneath her. Instead, she's had plenty of time to seduce and manipulate those she needed to to get where she wants to be. Those can be the toughest people to read since you're inadvertently part of their plans. Avarice is her basic instinct. Because she represents absolute power, this character needed to be larger in scope than everyone around her; so slick that we feel she may be the embodiment of the 👿Devil Herself.
"I'm a competitor. Winning adds value to Life. Losing is a choice, and a poor one. You deserve what you let happen to you." - Maundy
What was demanded was an instant declaration of character. In 1978, the Navy Yard in Philadelphia is 'undocking'; having practically been de-commissioned since its last ship was built some eight years prior, the U.S. Military has begun organizing plans to transfer ownership of the grounds to the highest private domestic bidder in an effort to stave off foreign competition towards the end of the Cold War. The opportunistic Newport News-based baron, Maundy Lindros, has caught wind of the sale and wants to expand her dealings in the corridor. When we meet Maundy in Die, Detective!™ (the work's prelude = the year 1978), we immediately know who sets the tone. A Norfolk-born+raised aristocrat instilled with a sense of noblesse oblige (although you wouldn't at first guess this from her affection for cowgirl boots👢), she
runs things without titles. Blind (born with optic nerve hypoplasia) - yet visionary - and mute, she's deignly mastered the secret to being in two (2) places at once - by having your DNA all over the place (and holograms). We're not afraid of her, we just would rather not deal with her if we don't have to.
Possessing a genius IQ, she has applied it masterfully to naval architecture. Her enterprise (to which she was a legatee), Lindros FlyerCast & Irons, Ltd., was instrumental in
building and bringing the first fleet of slave ships to Rhode Island's wharves*, and today
controls the regional (Philadelphia-Hampton Roads corridor)
seaport for all merchant maritime freight.** I made that up, there's no real historical significance. Wink😉 to the Swedish surname. By proxy, her company is also the de facto
operator of the Philadelphia Water Authority, holder of the Philadelphia Gas Company, mutual owner of SPEC (Southeastern Pennsylvania Electric Company), silent majority stakeholder in the Panama Canal Mortgage, and financier of the Thanks Endowment.
She doesn't know it yet, but her heavy investment in Securitas AB is about to look more prudent (and dangerous at the same time), thanks to the hiring of Pinkerton consultant Gunyo Gruber. Like with any
control freak, she's grounded in materialism, because to them, possessions are tangible realism. That's what's scary about her; she's bureaucratic, not political.
/// +For reference, Maundy's full name is Maundy Lindros. The name comes from 'Maundy Thursday', retaining Easter nomenclature. The name 'Lindros' was chosen in honor of of Eric Lindros, who played for the Philadelphia Flyers hockey🏒 team, that's also where the name of her
inherited business (Lindros FlyerCast...) comes from.
-- Trivia: "Maun-" is derived from Old Norse; akin to Olde English "gemynd", meaning 'think' or 'intellect'.
-- She has no siblings, never married, and is childless. We can conjecture that because her traditional parents may have been somewhat disappointed by having a physically disabled/handicapped kid, they decided to not bring any more children into this cruel world, and instead, dedicated all of their resources to her development, which may explain her heightened senses, genius, and work ethic. Her zodiac sign is Pisces♓👍.
+The first ban on slavery anywhere in the American (New England) colonies was passed on May 18, 1652 in the territory of what is now Rhode Island. Since this is fiction, anyway, we may assume, for good
measure, that the Lindros family - perhaps upon Quaker conversion after its Virginia settlement - may have had something to do with the passing of that
She really is untouchable. Throughout most of the
opera, we rarely get to see her in the flesh; she
uses holograms exclusively.
A diabolical recluse who seldom docks for anyone, Maundy (in the vicinity of her bodyguard/captain/pilot, Lef'fut) resides on a Class A submersible, the Drebbel, that often deep cruises somewhere nearby in the Atlantic Ocean, probably in a bay off the coast of New Jersey. -- Heck, I wrote her and I can't even pinpoint her location.🤷♂️
-- This is to give a sense of how little she thinks of both the limelight and people on land, along with the baggage each brings. Allergic to stress (her philosophy for living a long life), she takes great precautions to ensure her well-being.
On the business side, she
encrypted holograms with keyboard
input. The corporate office occupies the top floor (penthouse) of One Liberty Place, and is managed by her assistant, Lily. It also
operates mineral mining camps in Silver Bow County, Montana.
In addition to being the world's premiere distiller of argon, Lindros is the largest importer of phosphate from Morocco in the Americas. A subplot is that Philadelphia's Islamic demographic (spearheaded by its North African Muslim community) wants her company to pay retribution for unfair trade practices between the two countries, and a sizable number of Moroccan mobsters have sprouted inside the City and around the Delaware Valley for this very purpose. To protect her wharf from local mob threats, she employs the East Philly-based kingpin, Theo.
"The only thing a person can genuinely make is a decision." - Maundy
Basically, the whole story centers around her, as told from interactions with our eponym. To some degree - and on a very high-level, the entire piece purveys the rivalry between Maundy and her adversary, Ember. For the better part of forty-plus years, these two power brokers have formulated an ongoing mutual disdain for each other; engaging in a soft war of money versus clout. It has taken an outsider and an incredible
event to align their singular objectives. The tricky part about this character is that she brings no intentional antagony to the narrative; (other than her younger self's direct involvement with Pascha's reformation, ie. Joseph becoming John) she is not the sworn enemy of our protagonist/antagonist. Yet, the ebb+flow of her executive decisions pretty much entangles everyone in her web.
Mr. Alphabet (aka Dwight Mann) is a younger, hungrier, substantially wealthier (as the world's richest person by far), but more progressive tycoon, and he demands that the utility companies that Maundy owns be returned to the democratic jurisdiction in advance of his cheque-writing. This places major strain on Ms. Lindros, to the point that she is forced to improvise, which is akin to the awakening of a sleeping giant.
"We shouldn't listen to them. ... Their cheering's all artifice. The truth is, for my downfall, they've been waiting." - Maundy
In the political arena, Ember - now Attorney General Emerita - who has been pursuing legal avenues to incriminate Maundy for four decades (since Frank Rizzo's tenure), feels obligated to comply with Mr. Alphabet because everything that he promises aligns with her politics, and, as mayor (once oathed), she would have the means (as the top cop she's always had the authority but not the opportunity) to finally prosecute+usurp her nemesis.
Now in her eighth decade of life, the Attorney General Emerita sees this special election in which she is running as the culmination of all of her works and possibly her last chance at holding said coveted office. It's a credible longshot, but being the Mayor of Philadelphia would cap the efforts of a distinguished legal career and satisfy her public ambition. Ember seeks to re-assert the 'natural
order of things' throughout and around the town (and judging by her ties to Speaker Turtle, beyond). Her campaign is based on adjectives such as reform, gentrification, safety, and progress. She is
definitely "in it to win it".
Make no mistake, neither of these women are angels. Each has an air of desperation to get the other 'out of the way'. Whereas, Lindros has the money to buy her power, Ember is particularly nefarious in her
control of the rulebook (and the impulse to abuse it). This may very well
prove to be a situation where the pen and sword are fair in might.
"I've lived a long, normal life. Like you, I used to be overwhelmed with sadness when people died. Stay in law enforcement long enough, and we all come to the same satisfying conclusion: criminals make it easy to see that not everyone wants or deserves to live." - Ember Libitina
I actually couldn't tell this story without Ember. One, the incumbent mayor, Curran, needs a worthy challenger in the runoff election that's taking place, and two, in
order to keep things from spiraling
out-of-control, Maundy's overbearing authority has to be challenged by an adversary from the political sphere. It just does. This situation (the distribution of Mr. Alphabet's intra-city investment) lends itself perfectly to a winner-takes-all 'Battle for Philadelphia' that nobody can actually win. The ever-so-sharp Libitina shows us that people's migrant behavior is recycled from patterns of economic health [ie. roughly every two (2) decades or every other
generation, the wealthier
class relocates back into the city for jobs/employment+transportation before saving their money and moving to the suburbs]. This is an important note and plot point, as we see that residential stagnation is a detriment and impossibility where there exists youth.